Math 135 Class Notes

Business Calculus

Spring 2009

1.1

Limits: A Numerical and Graphical Approach

The limit of a function is the fundamental concept in calculus and is used to define the derivative of a function, the subject of this first chapter. In this first section, we’ll introduce an intuitive definition of the limit of a function. Calculus is concerned with how function values, or outputs, change as the input changes. Suppose we have a function y = f (x). Then x is the input and y the output. Suppose that, as the input x gets closer and closer to some fixed number a, the function values get closer and closer to some fixed number L. The number L is called the limit of f as x approaches a. EXAMPLE Consider the function defined by f (x) = x2 + x − 2 . x−1 First note that f (x) is not defined at x = 1 since the denominator x − 1 equals 0 at x = 1. Even though the function is not defined at x = 1, we can still examine how the function behaves for x close to 1. We can do this either numerically by constructing a table of function values for values of x close to 1, or graphically by looking at its graph near x = 1. a) Complete the following table of values x approaches 1 from left −→ | ←− x approaches 1 from right x f (x) Based upon the table, what are the function values doing as x gets closer and closer to 1? 0 0.8 0.9 0.99 0.999 1 1.001 1.01 1.1 1.2 2

b) Use the table of values to sketch the graph of the function close to 1. Based upon the graph, what are the function values doing as x gets closer and closer to 1?
y
4

3

2

1

–1

0

1

2

3

x

1

2

Chapter 1

Differentiation

In the above example, even though the function is not defined at x = 1, as x approaches 1 from either side, the function approaches 3. We use an arrow, →, to stand for the words “approaches.” So the above statement can be written: As x → 1, f (x) → 3. The number 3 is called the limit of f (x) as x approaches 1 from either side and we write
x→1

lim f (x) = 3.

DEFINITION OF LIMIT As x approaches a, the limit of f (x) is L, written
x→a

lim f (x) = L

provided that we can make the values of f (x) arbitrarily close to L (as close to L as we like) by taking x to be sufficiently close to a (on either side of a) but not equal to a. The notation lim f (x) indicates that x approaches a from both the left and the right. If we only x→a allow x to approach a from the left or from the right, we can consider a one-sided limit. We write
x→a+

lim f (x) to indicate a limit from the right lim f (x) to indicate a limit from the left

and
x→a−

EXAMPLE

Consider the piecewise-defined function given by Ω 2x + 2 for x < 1 H(x) = 2x − 4 for x ≥ 1
x→1

Complete the following table of values and draw a graph of the function to find the limit lim H(x), if it exists. If not, explain why the limit does not exist. x f (x)
y
6 5 4 3 2 1 –6 –5 –4 –3 –2 –1 –1 –2 –3 –4 –5 –6 1 2 3 4 5 6

0

0.8

0.9

0.99

0.999

1

1.001

1.01

1.1

1.2

2

x

1.1

Limits: A Numerical and Graphical Approach

3

In the preceding example, the function H(x) approaches different values as x approaches 1 from the left and from the right. The limits from the left and from the right both exist but are not equal to one another. In order for the (two-sided) limit lim f (x) to exist, both one-sided limits must exist and x→a be the same. THEOREM: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ONE-SIDED AND TWO-SIDED LIMITS The limit of f (x), as x approaches a, is L if and only if the limits from the left and the right both exist and both equal L. That is, lim f (x) = L
x→a

if and only if
x→a−

lim f (x) = L

and

x→a+

lim f (x) = L.

In the first example in this section, the limit lim f (x) exists even though the function f (x) is not
x→1

defined at x = 1. In the second example, the left-hand limit lim− H(x) = 4 even though H(1) 6= 4.
x→1

THE LIMIT DOES NOT DEPEND UPON THE FUNCTION VALUE The limit of a function as x approaches a only depends upon the function values close to a and not at a itself. This means that the limit at a does not depend upon f (a) or even on whether that function value exists. EXAMPLE Consider the piecewise-defined function given by Ω 5 for x = 2 G(x) = x − 1 for x 6= 2

Graph the function and find each of the following limits, if they exist. If necessary state why the limit does not exist. y a) lim G(x)
x→2

6 5 4 3 2 1

b) lim G(x)
x→−3

–6 –5 –4 –3 –2 –1 –1 –2 –3 –4 –5 –6

1

2

3

4

5

6

x

4

Chapter 1

Differentiation

EXAMPLE

Consider the function given by f (x) =

1 +3 x−2 The graph of the function is shown below. Complete the following table of values and use the table and graph to find the limit lim f (x), if it exists. If necessary, state why the limit does not exist.
x→2

x f (x)

1
y
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

1.5

1.9

1.99

1.999

2

2.001

2.01

2.1

2.5

3

–4

–3

–2

–1 –1 –2 –3 –4

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

x

The one-sided limits in the preceding example are −∞ and ∞. Keep in mind that ∞ and −∞ are not real numbers. We use ∞ as a special notation to indicate a quantity which is increasing without bound in a positive direction and −∞ to indicate a quantity which is increasing without bound in a negative direction. In addition to having infinite limits as in the preceding example, we can also consider limits at infinity, denoted by lim f (x) or lim f (x).
x→∞ x→−∞

EXAMPLE
x→−∞

Consider the function f (x) =

lim f (x). x 10 100 1000 10,000

1 + 3 in the preceding example. Find lim f (x) and x→∞ x−2 x f (x) −10 −100 −1000 −10,000

f (x)

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